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Today is Tuesday, Oct. 4, and this is your Wisconsin Wake-Up Call.
Hey George, it’s best to let it go
The Wisconsin football team has a bye this week, so the sting of the loss to Michigan is still there for many players, including George Rushing. He was the wide receiver that quarterback Alex Hornibrook was looking for when Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis made perhaps the interception of the year.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 2, 2016
While the entire world went crazy over the amazing play, some questioned whether there should have been pass interference on Lewis. On Monday, Rushing decided to provide photo evidence that there was, sending a tweet out that he later deleted.
Lewis didn’t want to hear it and gave a worthy microphone drop response.
Whether there was pass interference or not — and it appears there’s at least something there — it’s pointless to bring it up 48 hours after the fact. It comes across as whining and making excuses for an offensive effort that was among the worst in the last 16 years for a Wisconsin team. Rushing and the Badgers have to own that, not play a game of “what ifs.” There was nothing to gain for Rushing, and by deleting the tweet he likely realized that too late.
Wisconsin, but especially Rushing, needs to move on and realize that one play didn’t decide the game. Putting up 159 yards of offense is why the Badgers didn’t come out on top, and that’s where the team’s focus needs to be, not on a picture that won’t change the past or help the future.
Nebraska the best in the West?
The article from Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel starts with a simple question: Does the Big Ten West title run through Nebraska?
The point of the article isn’t to answer the question, just merely point out some facts and figures while laying out the rest of Wisconsin’s schedule as the team hits the bye.
But that doesn’t mean the question can’t be answered. And the answer is no.
The Mike Riley hype train is in full effect in Lincoln after wins over a clearly down Oregon team at home, and less than impressive back-to-back wins over Northwestern and Illinois — teams that are a combined 3-6 on the year with losses to the likes of Western Michigan and Illinois State. The Huskers’ one win over a team above .500 right now is Wyoming.
This isn’t to say the second team of the Riley era is bad or irrelevant. The group most certainly is in the race to claim the Big Ten West title. But let’s tap the breaks a little bit before Nebraska is anointed the best of anything.
The schedule — that will see the Huskers come to Madison to face Wisconsin, and then head to Columbus to face Ohio State in back-to-back weeks later this month — will tell us all whether this Nebraska team is any better than the ones under former coach Bo Pelini that came up small in almost every big game it ever played.
No Vince Biegel, no problem
Wisconsin lost one of its best defensive players just days before the game with Michigan, but there wasn’t much of a dropoff in play on the defensive side of the ball.
Outside linebacker Vince Biegel underwent surgery last Thursday to fix a cracked bone in his right foot and will miss several weeks. When a playmaker like that goes down, you expect some kind of residual effect, but there wasn’t anything noticeable with junior Garrett Dooley replacing Biegel.
Michigan had scored at least 40 points in every game this year, but coach Jim Harbaugh’s crew was held to 14 on Saturday. Michigan gained 349 yards, more than 100 yards fewer than the Wolverines were averaging coming in.
— The Journey (@BTNJourney) October 3, 2016
So what does this say about Wisconsin’s defense?
It says defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox has one heck of a linebacker group. The four starters — Jack Cichy, T.J. Watt, T.J. Edwards and Dooley — combined for 41 of the team’s 76 tackles, 2.5 of the 4 sacks and 4 of the 6 tackles for loss. And it means that while Biegel is out, for however long that will be, Wisconsin has the bodies to cover for him.
For Greg Gard’s dad
Wisconsin basketball coach Greg Gard is among the more genuine people in college sports. Ask anyone about him — be it a life-long friend, an opposing coach or a player’s parents — and they’ll tell you that his likeability and willingness to help when possible is off the charts.
So it makes sense that Wisconsin will pay homage to the man who helped make him that way, his father Glen Gard, during an exhibition game later this month.
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) October 3, 2016
Glen Gard was diagnosed with brain cancer in the spring of 2015 and passed away on Oct. 30. It’s no coincidence that the game will be played on the one-year anniversary of his death, with Greg Gard telling reporters Monday that while there will certainly be tears shed, it’s also a day where they can spread awareness for brain cancer, as well as every other form of the disease, in an effort to help anyone that might be affected.
“That was always kind of the root of what our dad was about anyway, helping others,” Gard said. “To be in that position where we can use our platform to help other people, to bring awareness to this. “Hopefully it’s a prevention, a cure, a cause, the emotional support. It will all be positive, and that’s what he would have wanted as well.”
The effort to bring awareness to something that affects so many fits Gard’s personality, as does the “Shooting Down Cancer” event that former coach Bo Ryan started and Gard will continue on Oct. 10.
— Wisconsin Badgers (@UWBadgers) October 3, 2016
But what Gard does on a basketball court doesn’t define him. He’s defined by the person he is, and the person his parents helped him become. And the fact he and his brother, Jeff, are able to show that off in their chosen profession on a such a big stage should prove for a tough but memorable night.